Jul 19, 2011 9:33 PM by Ariel Wesler

Firefighters offering free emergency preparedness class

If an earthquake hit the Central Coast, would you be prepared? Santa Maria firefighters want to help you help yourself in case of an emergency

The fire department is kicking off its "Ready Santa Maria" program tonight. Classes will be held every Tuesday night for about a month at the Casa Del Rio Mobile Home Park on Suey Road. Firefighters will go over how to make an emergency kit, a family plan, and even how to use a fire extinguisher.

When it comes to preparing for an emergency, Ed Young has the Casa del Rio community covered.

"I believe what I do is a benefit to the seniors," Young said.

As manager of the mobile home park, he's got a closet full of emergency gear from flashlights to walkie talkies, first aid supplies, even wheelchairs and walkers. Firefighters say you must ultimately protect yourself.

"If we had a huge earthquake in town, there's only 13 people on duty. How long do you think it's going to take until we come and find you? It could be a couple weeks, truly a couple weeks," said Battalion Chief Dan Orr with Santa Maria Fire.

Young has a color coded evacuation plan for the 550 seniors who live there, but he's had to convince some of them to expect the worst.

"My kids are gonna come and get us. I said, 'What if the bridge is out?' So, really, it kind of opens their eyes now and they're starting to look at what I'm talking about," Young said.

Now, he hopes to use the classes to teach them even more.

To give you an idea of just how committed ed is to emergency preparedness, he put together this mock up of utilities here at the mobile home park. This way he can show seniors how to shut off their water, gas, and electricity in case of a disaster.

If you can't afford all the supplies, firefighters say put a kit together gradually.

"You buy a little bit of water. You buy a little bit of food. You buy a flashlight. You buy these things and in the course of half a year, you have a very nice disaster cache that you can rely on," Orr said.

"It's something that's a must," Young said.

Besides just what to do, the class also teaches how to emotionally cope with a disaster. "Ready Santa Maria" is paid for through the "Aware and Prepare" grant. The city says the program has already taught nearly 150 people this year how to prepare for any emergency.


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